Launched in 1926, the William Scoresby was built by Cook, Welton & Gemmell Ltd as an oceanic research vessel for use during the Discovery Investigations from 1926-1938. Designed along the same lines as a whale catcher she was equipped with a scientific laboratory and trawling equipment to conduct surveys and whale-marking.
In Oct 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty (and designated HMS) for service in the Falkland Islands and Dependencies, and stationed in the Falkland Islands from June 1940. From 1943-46, the William Scoresby supported Operation Tabarin – a secret Second World War expedition to the Antarctic organised by the British Government. Under Captain Victor Marchesi, the Scoresby acted as escort, personnel transport and mail ship, supporting the establishment of permanent British bases at Deception Island, Port Lockroy and Hope Bay. Service under the Admiralty ceased in Sep 1946.
- Dimensions: length 134 feet; beam 26 feet
- Gross tonnage: 324 tons
- Speed: 12 knots
The former whale-marking vessel was named after William Scoresby, 1789-1857, son of a Whitby whaler. Scoresby commanded numerous whaling voyages in the Arctic regions, combining the search for whales with contributions to scientific knowledge of Arctic seas, as well as charting and mapping the coast of East Greenland.
Following Tabarin, the RRS William Scoresby was used by the National Institute of Oceanography in the Southern Ocean in 1951. In 1954 she was sold-off to British Iron and Steel Corporation for scrap and broken up Sutton Harbour, Plymouth.
About the Discovery Investigations
The Discovery Investigations were a series of marine biology and oceanographic surveys undertaken from 1925-1951 under the auspices of the Colonial Office, and managed by the Discovery Committee. The Committee was established to carry out the recommendations made in a Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Research and Development in the Dependencies of the Falkland Islands (1920), which reviewed marine resources in the Southern Ocean and the need to monitor them and their environment in the light of rapid expansion of the whaling industry. The archives of the Discovery Investigations are held by the National Oceanographic Library.